Time To Change The Narrative
It was Amy Goodman who ‘hit the nail on the head’ when she stated on CNN that the American mainstream media produces “…manufactured consent”. Nothing could have been more obvious than on the night of Super Tuesday, March 15th. With disappointing results coming in from Florida, North Carolina and surprisingly Ohio (given Sanders’ victory in Michigan) Bernie Sanders took to the stage to deliver a defiant hour long speech in Arizona. Except few were watching. MSNBC, CNN and Fox failed to cover any aspect of his speech, although CSPAN and Al-Jazeera did. The Bernie Sanders media blackout is still in truly efficient working order.
Here in Europe it was no better. We had the ignominy of watching a still image of Donald Trump’s lectern whilst briefly switching to the speeches of Rubio, Cruz and yes, even Kasich. The BBC and Sky News (subsidiary of News Corp) were transfixed on hearing Donald Trump whilst the Democratic contest was deemed a ‘foregone conclusion’. Total delegate figures displayed have always shown ‘unpledged’ delegates, seemingly giving Hillary Clinton an insurmountable lead. A total misrepresentation of the political reality. Clinton knows only too well from 2008 how ‘unpledged’ delegates soon flee a sinking ship…
Essentially, the mainstream media have, in Donald Trump, their blockbuster ratings grabber. Whilst in Hillary Clinton, they have a tow-the-line establishment candidate. It is a presidential contest they can salivate over. A presidential contest they want.
Unless of course we can change their narrative.
“In terms of campaign coverage … there is more coverage about the political gossip of a campaign, about raising money, about polling, about somebody saying something dumb, or some kid [who] works for a campaign sends out something stupid on Facebook, right? We can expect that to be a major story… But what your job is, what the media’s job is, is to say, look, these are the major issues facing the country. We’re a democracy. People have different points of view. Let’s argue it.” – Bernie Sanders interview on CNN.
It was only eight years ago when the mantra of ‘Hope and Change’ not only gripped America but the world. The message of the Obama campaign resounded loud and clear because it was allowed to. Obama and Clinton fought a clean fight but a fair fight. ‘Hope and Change’ overcame ‘More of the Same’. Eight years later it is far from the case. To lose to an ‘insurgent’ from Illinois was one thing, to lose to a ‘bruiser’ from Brooklyn is another. In Clinton’s case its ‘once bitten, twice shy.’ Her campaign, her party and her corporate owners have circled the wagons and are doing all they can, not to discredit Bernie Sanders but to silence him through a systematic media blackout of his campaign and his arguments.
Democracy within the Democratic Party is fast becoming a closed shop. The party establishment has been successful in shutting out the very capable Martin O’Malley, but Bernie Sanders is a different proposition. Judging by the debacle that was the Primary in Arizona, many have argued of voter registration irregularities and with people waiting up to five hours to vote, voter suppression has shown its ugly head. This does not bode well for the Democratic Party.
Consider: 2012 primary had 300,000 voters and 200 polling places. 2016 primary has estimated 800,000 voters at 60 polling places. #12News
— JOE DANA (@JoeDanaReports) March 23, 2016
If corporate media giants were solely after ratings then a Trump and Sanders show-down in November would be box-office material. An American general election free from corporate command and control. The Sanders story itself writes like a Hollywood script; humble beginnings, the civil rights movement, his election as Mayor of Burlington and Senator in Vermont against all odds, his opposition against the Iraq War, his fight against income inequality, the global financial crisis, Citizens United, free third level education and many more…
This is not about ratings. It is about control. Sanders cannot be bought, cannot be controlled and cannot be influenced by corporate America. For that reason the corporate media establishment will continue its media blackout of the Sanders campaign.
Is There A Path To A Sanders Victory?
There is, but its a narrow one given the circumstances…
In the aftermath of ‘Western Tuesday’ (03/22/16) we were greeted with the headlines “Hillary Wins Arizona”. Indeed she did win 58%-40% amongst much controversy. Yet Bernie Sanders won more delegates on the night. He won Idaho and Utah not convincingly… overwhelmingly. 78-21% and 79%-20% respectively. To be successful he has to win and win big in the larger states. He currently trails Clinton in the PLEDGED delegate count 1223 to 920.
Boise City in Idaho set the record for the largest caucus in American history. Yet it was largely ignored by the American mainstream media. It is a trend that continues. Nevertheless the heavy lifting for the Sanders campaign is over. The early voting states disproportionately favoured Hillary Clinton. It is worth remembering at this stage of Obama’s campaign he had lost 21 states to Clinton.
Next up comes Hawaii, Alaska and Washington. All caucuses where Bernie is strongest. It is here he can build real momentum. Particularly in Washington where he is set to rout Clinton and take a sizeable proportion of its 118 delegates.
Then Wisconsin on April 5th where both are neck and neck in the polls. A victory here (especially after winning in Michigan) would be massive going in Wyoming and crucially the New York Primary on April 19th.
The Sanders team are playing a long game as summarised excellently by Tad Devine:
“We’re just not intimidated by the numbers; you know, the numbers are a significant advantage for her, she’s done well, but the process for her has been front-loaded; all her really strong states were up front. We had a strategy to take on that front-loaded process, but that would have required us to win Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. We came really close to pulling that off. When we didn’t win in Nevada, we decided to step back and take a much longer approach to this. We are uniquely situated to follow this strategy, because we have something I think that, really, I can’t remember another campaign in history ever having, which is unprecedented financial support from the grassroots fundraising network we have built. That’s really one of the the fundamental difference of this campaign: we have resources that past campaigns never had available to them; and that resource advantage is not only working for us in a practical way, providing what we need in order to campaign and compete, it’s also working on a message level; people are supporting Bernie Sanders because they believe in what he’s trying to do in revolutionizing American politics. So that’s what I think is different; and that difference is really the reason that we can compete and win in the rest of the process.” – Tad Devine (03/16/16)
Bernie Sanders is like no other candidate. Universally respected on both sides of the isle, he has a trustworthy rating off the scale compared to Clinton. He has the financial clout to take on the Clinton electoral machine all the way to the convention.
Does he have a chance? Well yes, but its a slim chance. At this stage of the campaign its all about momentum and getting his message out there which is incredibly difficult given the circumstances. He is currently polling (according to Bloomberg) ahead of Clinton nationally, and batters Trump by 24 points, Cruz by 12 and Kasich by 4. The only candidate who can unite the Republican Party at the moment is a Democrat… Hillary Clinton.
The Democratic Party, has for decades, offered the ‘Third Way or the Highway’. A compromise with right-wing America. The Republican Party has moved so far to the right today America needs a political realignment. Something Clinton cannot provide but Sanders can.
This is a once in a generation opportunity for Democrats to vote for real change. There are many of us in Europe who hope they take it.
Follow Patrick on Twitter: @ViewFromAttic